Caregiving: How Death Prepared Me
My mom, age 93. Photo by Brant Huddleston.
Caregiving: How Death Prepared Me
I am sitting in my 92 year old mom’s living room, with its eccentric, international decor, beautifully cluttered art, and mid-century style disheveled furniture. It’s beautiful. She’s asleep in next room, and I am having a glass of wine.
We had another good day today, mom and I, breakfasting out with my younger brother, taking him to the airport, playing with the dog, napping, watching the news, and sharing dinner together. Then meds and bed, and of course, the usual and many extras that go along with being a caregiver. If you are one, you understand.
At one point this afternoon, as I watched her hobbling through the house, I was reminded of what a blessing it is to still have that moment, with her, there and then. We both know, and we talk about it, that the end could come at any time now. Death comes sniffing around more often nowadays.
And that’s why I’m grateful I did the podcast about death, dying and the afterlife. It was a two year death meditation of sorts, always with wise and wonderful guests. Our discussions helped prepare me for being a caregiver in ways I couldn’t foresee with my conscious mind.
Nowadays, when the subject comes up, mom and I talk about it, naturally, covering the dark and the light of death, and the in-between.
But at least we talk about it, from time to time, and I know exactly how she feels and what she wants. There is clarity. That’s a good thing.
I will keep the door open to death (as I must), and I might even do more shows about it one day. For now I am focusing the show on other things.
For those who want to experience their own death meditation, I highly recommend Dr. Karen Wyatt’s podcast at the End-of-Life University and her excellent book What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying. Karen deep wisdom and gentle style is a comforting guide on what can be a challenging part of your journey.
But as Joseph Campbell said, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.”
Discovering that treasure will help you help others.
I interviewed Karen in 2014, when I was first starting my podcast. Back then I only knew her through her book, but since then I’ve had the occasion to hang out with Karen and her husband, and we’ve become friends. A gorgeous person in all ways.
Books by Brant
For Christmas 2018, my brother, a pilot with American Airlines, gave me a gift that became the experience of a lifetime: 12 months of free travel anywhere American Airlines flies.
Thus began a year long journey that took me from the rocky coasts of Portugal, to the hot sands of Morocco, to the mangrove swamps of Panama, with many places beyond and between. In cheap hostels and the backwaters of the nomadic milieu, I discovered a treasure chest of colorful and fascinating people. I tell their stories and a bit of my own.
The trip became as much a spiritual and emotional journey inward as it was a literal outward one, and found me in a place those of you who are in the second half of life are likely to recognize.
With references to the philosophies of Carl Gustav Jung, Jesus, Bob Dylan, and the Buddha, Blue Skyways is an international romp by a man in his 60’s with not much more than a pack on his back, and still much to learn.
A suspense/thriller novel!
When a psychology doctoral student Brian Drecker uses advanced software to analyze dreams from around the world, he discovers odd patterns that cannot be explained. Where one person's dream ends, another's begins. Unique objects appear again and again...even though the dreamers are complete strangers.
Drecker discovers the patterns form a map pointing to an ancient, lost object. Soon after, he is mysteriously murdered, leading his deadbeat brother and estranged wife on an international race to find the treasure, and the murderer. Along the way, the troubled couple are opposed by dark forces of the religious underworld, who launch a global pandemic to ensure the map of dream's secret remains lost forever.